The Los Angeles Lakers came back to winning days, beating the Detroit Pistons after a game that saw an extraordinary altercation between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart.
Early in the third quarter, James hit Stewart in the eye after the two players were wrestling near the paint while Jerami Grant was attempting free throws from the charity stripe. The enraged Pistons center then charged at the four-time NBA champion as Detroit’s trainers scrambled to hold him back.
Blood trickling down from around his eye, Stewart appeared to have cooled down only to run towards James again, tackling numerous members of the Pistons’ coaching staff along the way. In the end, the officials ejected both players from the game.
Describing the scene from his vantage point, Anthony Davis said he has never seen an incident this bizarre since arriving in the NBA.
“On the free throw, boxing out and Stewart tried to get physical with LeBron and LeBron did the same thing,” Davis said.
“Everyone in the league knows LeBron’s not a dirty guy. As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and told him ‘my bad, I didn’t try to do it.’ And he tried to, I don’t know what he was trying to do, but nobody on our team 1-15 was having it.
“We’re going to protect our brother. I’ve never in 10 years seen a player try to do that, at least in the years I’ve been playing, obviously we’ve seen it before back in the day, but in recent basketball, it’s uncalled for. You got a cut above the eye, accidental, it wasn’t on purpose and we wasn’t gonna allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do but we wasn’t [going to] allow that.
“We just wanted to get the win for [LeBron]. Get the win for our team to get back in the win column.”
Besides defending James, Davis praised the security guards on the floor for their attempts to end the altercation. The 28-year-old All-Star added that although he doesn’t want to “promote violence,” the Lakers were ready to intervene if Stewart succeeded in reaching their leader.
“The NBA security, their security, our security, coaching staff, even some players, did a good job of trying to deescalate the situation even though he kept charging and charging and charging, kind of running in circles to go behind and all that stuff,” Davis said.
“You never want it to get to that point, I think the [Malice at the Palace] was 17 years ago, but I guess he had it on his mind that he was going to do something and when he’s got that on his mind, I guess no one was gonna stop him.
“Like I said, we were ready. We don’t promote violence, but like I said, what can we do when a guy just keeps charging and charging and charging? We weren’t gonna do nothing, we weren’t gonna stand there and just watch…But our security and their security did a hell of a job.”
Davis hopes Lakers can ‘build off’ comeback win against Pistons
Davis said the Lakers badly needed the win over Detroit regardless of the circumstances. The forward added he hopes L.A. can use the fourth-quarter rally that sealed the victory to turn things around this season.
“We played our best defensive quarter this season in the fourth, holding them to 17 points,” Davis said. “So we got to build off of this, especially on the defensive end.”
Head coach Frank Vogel echoed Davis’ words, saying the victory could be a momentum changer for the Lakers.
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